Sunday, December 4, 2011

Type Guilt into Amazon

If you type the word 'guilt' into the book department search at, you get 3,529 Results.  This makes me feel a little less alone, here.  On the first search results page, one book is a thriller by John Lescroart.  The rest are self-help books.  I'm willing to bet that none of them say "start a blog."

Let's check.  The first one is focused on the horrors and lasting effects of being reared in a 'shame-based environment'.  There is a list of 21 ways that adults who were shamed as children are different from normal adults.  There is also a list of 12 characteristics of shame-based adults in relationships, all starting with the word 'We." 

Unlike the book Quirk:  Brain Science Makes Sense of Your Peculiar Personality,  by Hannah Holmes, I doubt that this book will refer to mouse studies.  Quirk acknowledges that a person can have a personality that interprets the world in a fearful way.  Which is not to say that shaming children is a good thing, only that some people take on too much guilt no matter what you do. 

The About the Author blurb (of the first book) says that she speaks internationally and has appeared on radio and television.  This does not lend confidence, especially when those lists are such a grab bag of random, generalized badness.  "We know it will be different but expect it to be the same" could apply to just about anyone. 

I have spoken in more than three California cities and have been on television (admittedly, one appearance was teaching scarf juggling and another was learning to play Mah Jongg, but hey, both of them were fun).  If you're feeling guilty, you could do worse than reading this blog.  For one thing, you won't have to feel guilty about the cost, because it's free.

And, see, the second book blurbs its author as a licensed professional counselor, therapist, registered nurse, and hospital chaplain.  That beats being an inspirational speaker as a claim of authority.  The second author's list only has five things, and they're steps to letting go of the feeling that you're responsible for everything.  No, I lied, there's also another list of eight situations where a person and the people around them expect more out of the person than they should. 

In the intro is the statement "toxic guilt twists the truth and blinds us to the reality of the situation."  Since the first step on the list of five steps is: Speak the Truth, I suspect that the list of eight situations is meant to give the reader hints on what the Truth is.  We all get to work on what we're responsible for and what we can allow to be Somebody Else's Problem.  (Yes, that's a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quote.)

Sadly, reading this blog will not help you learn the Truth of your situation.  You will only get to see me struggle with the Truth of my situation and also with my wish to reach conclusions as to the Truth of my Grandmother's and Father's situations.  Of course, they're both dead, so whatever conclusions I reach can not be confirmed.  Not that they could have been confirmed when they were alive.  Those two never agreed about anything.  So any conclusion that one would have agreed with would have been excoriated by the other.

Perhaps I'd be better off learning to let conclusions go.  Or I could look at the third book.  Which do you think is more likely?  Ah, we have reached New Age.  "Love is where there is no fear. Fear is where there is no love."  The sales pitch has trancended the need for About the Author and the forward is by John Denver.  This book would approve of letting go.  No, it transcends letting go and reaches the height of forgiving all. 

I do not forgive all, here.  I record and archive in order to recycle, trash, and tote to Goodwill (remembering to get a receipt - I itemize).  Oh, and I mailed another Christmas card yesterday.  I need to get two more addresses, mail out three more cards, and then I'm through for the year.  Besides the gifts. 

Book four is on emotional blackmail, which Dad would see as HIS book.  Grandma would see it as him being mean to her when she's had so much pain in her life already and worked so hard to give him what he needed.

Book five lists 31 words to help you live free of guilt.  It looks like the author brought together 31 words and wrote an essay on each one in relation to guilt.  Sort of like a blog.  (Do I seem to be going on about blogs?)  The book is divided into three sections:  Self-Care, Balance, and Joy.  The first three words are: Honesty, Forgiveness, and Generosity.  This book has also transcended About the Author.

If you've ever wanted to attend an academic seminar on What is Guilt? from the perspectives of many different disciplines, but felt guilty about spending that much and taking that much time away from your responsibilities, then book number six is for you.  Although, even if you purchase it used, it's more than eighteen dollars, which may be more than you ought to pay for something that's just indulging yourself anyway.  If you do buy it, remember to read it in the bathroom so that you won't waste time.  Just don't stay in there too long.  There are other people living in this house, you know. 

The Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Treatment and Recovery brings you number seven, which probably shouldn't fill me with the foreboding that it does.  I mean, it's not like it's the Clovenfoot Foundation.  A PhD described as "a true contemplative rooted in the realities of life" and given access to AA's files isn't scary, right? 

It seems like a treatise on the need for an alchoholic to properly confront his or her shame to make a full recovery, which I do not need (although Grandpa did die of alchoholism induced kidney failure).  I doubt that I'll need the chapter on Complementarity and the Mutualities that Heal, in order to clear my desk.  Although maybe it's trying to tell me to phone a friend and complain about my cluttered desk and the Grandmother that has exploded all over and under it, cadging for support in the form of There, There compliments* claiming that I'm performing a valuable family service even if no one in the family under the age of 50 seems even slightly interested, while those over 50 say Hey, it's great that you're doing that.  Or maybe I could blog about it instead. 

In the eighth book, a Rabbi uses the bible to answer the question: How good do we have to be?  I'm glad that God loves me anyway, but that won't get my desk cleared.  And after the desk, I have closets.  I've decided that I need to stencil the word FUTILITY on my bedroom closet door.  Everyone needs a futility closet.

The author of book nine left the ministry to be a full time councelor.  The book is about confronting your guilty past.  I think that's what I'm doing here.  My Dad's constant complaints about his childhood alway kind of embarassed me.  When, in the fullness of time, I had reason to talk to a councelor or two, I remembered more about his childhood than I did about mine.  And his felt more important.  I was ungraciously screwing up EVEN THOUGH I HADN'T HAD HIS HORRIBLE CHILDHOOD.  So reading Grandma's letters is poking a sore spot, but if I'm lucky there may be a bit of wound-lancing to be had.  We'll see.

The next author has a PhD and a theory of mind/body connection.  Oh, dear.  The first chapter is called The Bodymind and Soul:  A Psychospiritual Perspective on Guilt.  I'm sure it's filled with scienciness.  I'm also sure that there is nothing in it that will help get these letters logged and tossed.  Or scanned.  Or whatever I decide to do with them.  Digesting Grandma will be a long, slow, painful process, I'm sure.  It will get in the way of other things.  And you'll hear me complain about it here, in this blog. 

Do you think there's any monetizing potential in guilt?  Oh, I think 3,529 Results say yes. Do I think that I could say the wrong thing and get half my family angry with me.  Probably not.  But if it happens, you'll read about it here. 

*Yes, I know the difference between complement and compliment. 

It all counts for twenty.

In this post, I mentioned the phrase "it all counts on twenty."  I got curious about the phrase and googled it.  I only found a couple of references
, neither of which had a definition, although both of them made it clear that it was Navy slang.

So I took the question to the Straight Dope Message Board. Apparently, the actual phrase is either "it all counts for twenty (or thirty)" or "it all counts against twenty." The twenty in question is the number of years that had to be served before retirement. If you're stuck with a particularly boring or nasty job, you shrug it off with "it all counts for twenty," or it may be a nasty job, but it's getting me that much closer to retiring.

Letters from dead people can be educational.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Comments on Blue Belle's

Man, pictures take forever to load. We won't go over my learning curve regarding editing them into a post.
My first thoughts on this little booklet are tri-layered. That usually happens when I think about anything Grandma related. On the ME layer, the booklet was written on school-type paper and then rolled up and kept for, I'm guessing, 82+ years. It is yellowed, friable, and permanently curled into a tube. It is also in the recycling, now that I've typed it up and logged it here, with a copy on my hard drive in the genealogy folder.
I sort of resent the amount of time it took to do that. There was a good bit of wrangling and weighting down involved in just getting each page to lay flat for its turn at immortalization.
On the Grandma layer, it's both touching and sad that she kept it for so long. She really did have an urge to create. She became more than pretty good at drawing and painting, and did handicrafts her whole life. I haven't seen any other stories, or much of her writing, besides letters and wills. (I'll tell you about those some day.)
According to Uncle L, she supported herself and her children, at least for awhile, by making felt "jewelry". It's hard to guess how much time she put into that, though. She also made Barbie (tm) clothes and fancy clothespin dolls.
Like I said, she had an urge to create. Unfortunately, she also had an urge to go drinking with servicemen. (No, I’m not implying that she got drunk.  I have no clue about that.  I’m just saying that she liked to go to bars and that her eyes would light up when recalling men fighting over her.) So she never put in the time to get serious about trying to make a living with her drawings.
The third layer is the voice of my Dad, complaining. At some point he decided that his personal troubles were all her fault. After that, well, let's just say he complained about her a lot. I'm not going to talk about him much until I've got most of Grandma and Aunt D's stuff sorted. He's a whole different kettle of guilt.
Now let's see if I have anything I want to say about the story, itself. The plot is, of course, a hot mess. That's not a phrase I usually use, but it's a phrase that I don't seem to be able to veer from using in this case. It's a hot mess. I really hope that she was in the low end of her teens when she wrote it. I wrote stuff that was just as bad in my low teens, but I don't think I kept any of the really stinky stuff.
Of course, Grandma had more of a weakness for Romance novels than I ever had, so she would have liked it for that. Grandma kept me supplied with romance novels during junior high and high school, mostly with old style Harlequins and Georgette Heyer. I kept them in Wrigley's Gum boxes (the big packing boxes) under my bed.
At one point, Dad put his foot down, saying that if any more came into the house, an equal number had to leave. I was fine with that. I don't think I ever re-read them. Even so, when I moved away to college, and donated them to the local library, there were more than a thousand of them. (The library was thrilled. They became "honor" checkouts - not tracked - and there were apparently a number of little old ladies who just loved them.)
I read them as a cheap way to travel for a twelve-year-old. The stories were always set in England or Australia or somewhere else I'd never been. And the regencies, especially, were pretty good vocabulary builders. (Lately, I was tickled to see Terry Pratchett add that little bit of information to one of his books. It was Unseen Academicals.)
I never read them as romances, or even novels of manners. I suspect that Grandma did, though. For me, after the first dozen or so, it was too obvious that the characters were acting out a formula. The people and relationships never seemed real.
So - back to the story. The plot was a hot mess. The word cowboy was never stated, but everyone but Belle (or Belle's) talked cowboy. The hero shot the heroine and had to open up her shirt to discover that she had boobs. With eyesight that bad, it was a wonder he hit his target. But everyone else made the same mistake, so maybe in the time of the Flapper (the early 1920s), boobs were passé, even cowgirl boobs..
I will not speculate on how Belle got on a wanted poster, why her father was kidnapped, or why everyone knew the owner of the Circle R Ranch, but no one knew that he had a grown daughter. Wall Rock was the foreman of the Circle R, for Pete's sake. This is a bigger oversight than missing a set of boobs. I will also not ask what self-respecting Spaniard would name a town La Crane.
She must have liked the name Wall Rock, because she started so many sentences with it and never shortened it to Wall unless someone, say, the Sheriff, was talking. And Wall was a special guy: able to hide his horse in a clump of bushes, ambidextrous, and a soft touch for a sob story.
The heroine must have been wildly attractive for a woman with no cleavage. He decides not to turn her in to the Sheriff for the $5000 reward before she even wakes up after he shot her . . . again. Even though she had shot him. Rather than holding that against her, or even saying ouch, he's ready to assume . . . what? I'd say he thinks she's too feminine to be a criminal, but she just shot him. Then got shot without saying ouch herself.  That sounds manly to me.  Or maybe in The West, bullet wounds are just the casual punctuation of conversation. 
I feel so cheap taking pot-shots at this story. It was obviously written by someone very young. At least I earnestly hope that Grandma was close to twelve when she wrote it. She told me once that when she was young, she and her best friend made a pact to run away to The West and marry cowboys. This story would fit right in with that frame of mind.
As that kind of story, I think it's cute. "You'll need a yarn and a pair of lies" isn't a bad line. Neither is "I stopped him, but the pony got away with him." At twelve, there's plenty of time to learn where to put apostrophes.

Blue Belle’s

 - - a story written by L P - -

<< I don’t know when this was written, but it was written longhand on plain paper folded into a chapbook.  It was sub-headed:  A Novelette.  I’m guessing that she would have used the name H if it had been written after 1929.  I’m going to make an effort to refrain from editing as I type.  It’s possible she was very young when she wrote it. >> 

Wall Rock foreman of the Circle R. ranch, halted on a small knole, on either side grew tall elm, oak, and willow trees.  The faint clatter of horses hoofs striking against the hard earth came to Wall Rock halted on the narrow trail.  Dismounting he concealed his horse in a clump of bushes.  Moving swiftly, and keeping under cover Wall Rock pushed his way cautiously along the trail.

Rounding a bend in the trail revealed a small stream of water creeping from a stone wall.

Here Wall Rock paused, large boulders were strewn around him, he hid between two of these as a rider came into view.

The stranger rode a dainty, little blue roan.  He was riding hard and the horse was covered with lather.  Wall Rock stepped from between the boulders as the horse drew near.  “Hands Up!”  The rider urged the horse forward at greater speed.  Wall Rock fired, then once again.  The rider fell heavily as the horse reared suddenly into the air.

Holding his left arm tightly with the fingers of his right hand, he arose, his lips tightly closed and determined.  He was of small statue, about the height of five feet five inches.  His hat which had fallen off revealed beautiful golden, wavy hair.  His deep blue eyes looked into Wall Rocks black ones, for just a second.  “Well stranger I reckon I know who Yuh are.  I seen yuh’re picture on a poster with $5000 reward.  I’ll cash in on that tin ware.  Wall Rock had seen the poster at the sheriffs office in La Crane.  Reach for the moon Sonny I cain’t take chances of yuh’re decoratin’ me with yuhr B. B’s.

Wall Rock lead the horse back to where his own was picketed.  Nice poney yuh got here Son.  Blue Belle’s, what does that mean,”?  he asked as he gazed upon the name written in small gold letters across the front of the bridle.  But he received no ans.  Wall Rock didn’t mind, he could, and would talk.  As he mounted his horse he took his had away from the bridle of the other horse, in an instant it had leaped to one side, one soft call from its master and it dashed forward.

Wall Rock fired, the shot went wild.  He raced after the stranger with his own chestnut colored horse, but Blue Belle’s gained rapidly until at last Wall realizing it utterly futile, gave up the chase.

He had ridden back perhaps a half mile when he was halted by a group of men, whom he recognized as the sheriff and two – deputies and three men from neighboring ranches.  “Hey Wall did yuh see a pritty fella on a swell little hoss?”   “I reckon he was headed, this here way.” “Yuh just missed him, he went thet way, Wall pointed behind him.  I stopped him, but the pony got away with him.”    . . . . . . . .

Two weeks later Wall rode into La Crane again “Another hold up huh!’ ‘The sooner yuh git thet fella the better fer yuh Sherriff.”

Sherriff Tabor a large man with grey eyes and a black mustache which nearly covered his face, greeted Wall kindly

Then.  “Will you help?”

Wall hesitated “I tell yuh what if I see him I’ll stop him.”

Several persons had glimpses of the horse and rider, although none were able to catch him.  This was the third hold-up in La Crane during that last eight days.

Next morning Wall Rock had scarsly left the circle R. ranch when the rider crashed through the timber.  At sight of Wall he attempted to get into the timber again, Wall fired, the riders hand flashed down up and fire seethed through the air an instant later, the report of a six-gun filled the air.  Wall Rocks right arm hung useless, in a half second another report sounded  Wall gun in hand walked over where the rider had fallen   I guess my left hand’s peart near’s good as my right he muttered to himself.  He bent over the stranger.  Not dead he breathed.  He knelt beside him, blood streaked his shirt on the right side.

Wall Rock started to open his shirt in neat, small letters on the chest were the letters B. B.  He opened the shirt a little farther.  “God a girl,” he leaped to his feet, looked around as though not knowing what to do.  Looking down he knew he must stop the blood and try to fix the wound, not a large one, he went in search of water.

He came upon a water hole a quarter of a mile farther on filling his had, he returned to make as soft a bed as possible on some boughs of Willow tree.  Searching the girls saddle, he found a small ring with B. B. on it also.

Blue Belle’s he mused thinking of the bridle taking her blankets, which also had the initials B. B. neatly embordered in the corners, he finished making the bed.  Then gently, he lifted her and lay her upon it.  He washed her face in some of the cold water he had carried from the distant water hole.  Her eyelids quivered, and she regained consiousness.  He felt a queer tug dangerously close to his heart, what caused it?  He didn’t know. Suddenly she sat up asking, “What are you going to do call the Sherriff?”  “No I am not” he answered.  She whistled, the horse lifted its head and looked at her inquiringly.  “Come here Blue Belle’s.”  The horse crossed quickly to where she sat, nosing around her lovingly.  Blue Belle’s and I are pals aren’t we Blue?”  The horse put its nuzzle against her cheek gently nibbling for answers.

What is your name Wall asked at last.  She hesitated for an instant looking at him carefully.  Then “I guess I can tell you,  its Belle Blue, you see I named Blue, the opposite she is a wonderful horse, isn’t she pretty so neat and dainty a real blue, and her dark mane and tail!”

“Yes pretty!  Wall affirmed ‘Wait Pony I’m not going to hurt you” he said, as he attempted to lay his hands on her neck she drew away. “Oh Blue is always sny of strangers.”

Wall stood evidently in thought, at last he turned.

“Blue, that’s the name of the owner of the circle R.  He disappeared a month ago, we have been lookin’ for him ever since.”

“I know, the girl sighed he is my father I know where he is but I’ve been gathering evidence against the fellow who has been staging these hold-ups, he is the one who kidnapped ‘Daddy’.  I had gathered all the proof needed and was on my way to La Crane to have him arrested.  I have been searching for proof and was hot on the trail when you shot me.  I cut across to catch him when he passed this way with the loot of the last bank robbery I came this way for it is about ten miles shorter than the other way, and I am convinced he doesn’t know this old trail, few do.  He will be along any minut now.

After a wait of perhaps ten minutes they heard twigs snapping.  Across the opening a man was seen stalking cautiously, leading his horse.  Although they could see him they were hidden from his view by a clump of spruce trees.  Wall gasped, for it was on of the Deputy sheriffs, one of the most trusted men in La Crane.  Wall Rock leaped angrily forward, “Hands up he rasped.  The Deputys hands went up immediately.

“Whats the matter Wall, what hev’ I done”?

“Tell that to Sherriff Tabor yuh’er need a yarn, and a pair of lies.”  A nice gent yuh are trying and willing to have a girl lynched to save yuh’re dirty sneakin’ hide.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Two months later - -

Wall Rock sat on a spirited black horse while Belle sat on Blue to his right.  They had rode across the Circle R ranch and now sat looking the sun going down  “Wally do you remember just two months ago today?”

We say I do he said putting his arm around her.  Butt that’s over.  He’s doing prison duty now, and our Dad home an – and yuh’re goin’ to marry me ain’t yuh Belle?”  Blue stepped closer to the “Black Major, at a pressure on her side from Belles leg.  Belle laid her head against Wall’s shoulder.

“Yes Wally.”  He kissed her.  He reached down and patted the horses neck it neighed softly.  “My Blue and Belle he said in a whisper Blue and Belle or Mrs. Wallace Rockell.”

The End.